At the beginning of 2018, what is the biggest challenge facing your industry/field of expertise?
We continue to see challenges around navigating the regulatory landscape and making the move from rapid prototyping to production. Highly regulated industries such as medical and aerospace are leading the adoption of this technology. In addition, the industry continues to face a knowledge gap between the incoming and incumbent workforce.
Do you think 2018 will bring us closer to solving this problem?
UL has already established a number of solutions to address these problems; training, facility safety management, material and equipment compliance, end product testing and certifications. We have an opportunity to build awareness around these established services and connect the dots across the manufacturing value chain from material supplier to OEM. The challenge will be understanding the market readiness and demand to move to production.
Do you have a good feeling about 2018? Or, are you more pessimistic?
Definitely positive. If anything we may have been slightly ahead of the curve. We are getting strong traction in programs that we set up almost three years ago. It is important to evolve our programs as the technology evolves but to also remain patient and influential as the market matures.
What significant events will happen in your industry/field of expertise?
The industry is facing some consolidation and growth challenges which are only natural in any field.
Our focus is on expanding and scaling our established programs within our team and across the UL divisions and strengthening our position in end product industrial applications (e.g. medical, automotive, energy, power & technologies (EPT) and appliances, HVAC & lighting (AHL), etc).
We are also exploring areas of opportunity in AM metals. This will be leveraging the concept of UL’s recognized component program for plastics and applying it to metals.
What products or companies do you think will be successful? Why?
I am only able to predict regarding my own work within UL and I believe the below initiatives will be successful:
UL 3400 —UL’s Outline of Investigation for AM Facility Safety Management— The outline will be used for the evaluation and certification of any Additive Manufacturing facility using powder as the initial form of feedstock material to print parts. To date, such guidance did not exist within the industry.
Global Training Certification—UL is partnering with key industry players to provide a single go-to-market option for AM training and certification.
Cross-functional collaborations with UL divisions where we are seeing a strong push for enabling a path to production.